Originally Posted by A. G. Maisey
... Gardner is an historically interesting source, but it is as well not to take him too seriously. ...
... I have a very intense dislike for this name game business. Every collector I've ever known wants to stick a name on every item that comes into his possession.
Very, very frequently the names that they have to choose from are corruptions of the name provided by the indigenous informant, or the name is not a name at all, but a description, or the name is simply wrong.
Collecting is one thing.
Affixing correct names is something different. It is a very good idea for anybody who wishes to collect S.E.Asian weapons and tools to gain some knowledge of the relevant languages and get hold of a few decent dictionaries.
Alan, I agree completely with your comments! The same can be said for the naming of Filipino weapons, Burmese, Thai, etc. Our Western culture seems to crave a specific name for each identifiable item, and we want to catalog and classify these items as precisely as possible. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it can certainly lead to a false sense of knowledge and specificity when, as you say, we authoritatively pronounce something as being called a "bent knife."
However, without some attempt at classifying and sub-classifying our interesting collections, we are left with heaps of bolos, punales, parang, kris, pisau, dha, dao, etc. that are each heterogeneous in form and function. We do need a way to be able to talk with each other about the subtle differences. Not all of us can be immersed in the respective cultures and fluent in the languages of our interests. So we borrow from people who sound like they know what they are talking about, have maybe done some academic-looking research, and have published in a language that we understand.
I don't have an answer to this dilemma other than to read widely, and to visit here and other fora to try to sift out the wheat from the chaff. I am certain of one thing, however, and that is collectors are more numerous and better connected than ever before because of the internet and fora such as this one. Hopefully this is a good thing.